Margarida Mendes Vasconcellos (1510 – 1558)

Margarida Mendes Vasconcellos (1510 – 1558) is my 14th great-grandmother, she was born in Santa Cruz, Madeira, an autonomous region and Island of Portugal. She was a daughter of Christovão Teixeira Vasoncellos and Izabel Mendôça Perestrello.

This 16th century ancestral branch would account for my mothers Iberian Peninsula DNA Match of which is estimated as 3% and as much as 9% (although the highest estimate is unlikely). My family descend from Margarida through my grandfather William.

Margarida was a great-niece of Christopher Columbus.

Margarida married into a wealthy British sea fearing family The Gross family of Great Yarmouth.


In the Tudor period the Gross family of Great Yarmouth owned several large and technologically advanced ships for the era. The Gross family obviously had access to great wealth in order to purchase these ships. They were descended from Sir Oliver le Gros, Sheriff of Norfolk in 1405, who commanded a fleet of over 200 ships. Later le Gros family members traded in Belgium, however in general the le Gros family did not have this level of income based upon their Wills.

Thomas Gross born 1484 left a few fishing nets and some small flat-bottomed boats to his son William  born about 1500 in his Will. This is either an indication that Thomas Gross was a very poor man, or it is a brilliant exercise in tax evasion. By this time the real stash could have been on the island of Madeira. William Gross the elder probably visited Madeira. According to the DNA trail amongst indigenous Americans in Venezuela along the Orinoco River, he may have been on the third voyage of Christopher Columbus. He appears to have married a great-niece of Columbus, who was born in Madeira. She was descended from the great Portuguese navigators Antonio Teixeira Vaz, and Bartolomeo Perestrello. Her ancestors the Teixeira family were famous harbour builders in Portuguese colonies. Somewhere along the Gross or Furtado de Mendonca/Teixeira line there was a mixed race child born in Luanda, Angola, who is the ancestor of Emanuel Driggers (de Rodrigues) and the Melungeon community.

Thomas had two sons William Gross the elder and John Gross the elder born around 1535 in Great Yarmouth. They carried on trade with Spain and Portugal throughout the Tudor period, in spite of the outbreak of hostilities between England and Spain after the Reformation. They probably visited Spain, Mexico and the Caribbean, where William met his Spanish wife. After a disastrous flood in Norfolk they were asked to be involved in redesigning the harbour at Great Yarmouth. A new cut was eventually created on the advice they gave. This is the current entrance to Great Yarmouth Harbour.

William and John were citizens of Spain, possibly granted as a result of a marriage to the daughter of the Spanish ambassador to England during the reign of Henry VIII, Diego Hurtado de Mendoza,based upon DNA.  Diego Hurtado de Mendoza went to Mexico in 1533 as an administrator of the colony of New Spain, following soon after the Cortez expedition. His descendants in Mexico named their settlement Jadraque, after the castle built by the Hurtado de Mendoza family in Spain. His sister Mecia married Henry Duke of Luxembourg, the father of William the Silent, and later married a prince of Aragon. Diego visited the court of King Henry VIII in 1536, charged with arranging a marriage between Henry’s children Mary to Prince Philip of Spain, and Edward to Princess Beatrix of Portugal. Henry refused.

William Gross had two sons and a daughter named Mecia, by his Spanish wife, whose name was probably Margaret.

William and John Gross were members of an elite group of six English ships captains who were granted access to Spanish ports. The port governor would have been their uncle by marriage.

John Gross the Elder was able to retain access to Spanish ports during the reign of Elizabeth I, and is described in Tudor court records as providing valuable information to the crown. None of the members of the Gross family participated in the English fleet sent out against the Spanish Armada in 1587. This might have been in order to preserve their diplomatic status.

John Gross the Elder owned two large ships over 80 tons. His only child John born in 1594 died in infancy. John left his two ships to his nephew John the Younger Gross, son of William. John Gross the Younger’s only son John Gross became a Jesuit priest, ordained in 1608. He passed the ships down to Samuel Gross, son of Thomas Gross, the eldest of William’s three sons.

Samuel famously acquired the Mayflower in 1608, and went on to acquire a very large fleet of ships, including the Fortune (acquired from the pirate Joup in 1619), the Bonaventure, the Little James and the William and Mary. These ships were later involved in the settlement of the North American colonies.



Margarida MENDES VASCONCELLOS (1510 – 1558)
14th great-grandmother

William ‘of Great Yarmouth’ GROSS (1527 – 1576)

John ‘the Younger’, “Merchant of Great Yarmouth” GROSSE (1561 – 1595)
son of William ‘of Great Yarmouth’ GROSS

Cecily GROSSE (1585 – )
daughter of John ‘the Younger’, “Merchant of Great Yarmouth” GROSSE

Sampson ‘of Great Yarmouth’ CAUSTON (1615 – 1696)
son of Cecily GROSSE

Elizabeth CASTON (1655 – )
daughter of Sampson ‘of Great Yarmouth’ CAUSTON

William SEAGOE (1680 – )
son of Elizabeth CASTON

William SEAGOE (1706 – 1759)
son of William SEAGOE

William SEAGO (1743 – )
son of William SEAGOE

Elizabeth SEAGO (1777 – 1833)
daughter of William SEAGO

Elizabeth CRANE (1802 – 1842)
daughter of Elizabeth SEAGO

William Ethelbert MYHILL (1840 – 1910)
son of Elizabeth CRANE

Caroline Eliza MYHILL (1874 – 1909)
daughter of William Ethelbert MYHILL

Thomas Walter Frank BEAN (1903 – 1965)
son of Caroline Eliza MYHILL

William Llewellyn BEAN (1931 – )
son of Thomas Walter Frank BEAN

Christine Angela Deborah BEAN (1957 – )
daughter of William Llewellyn BEAN

Stephen Robert KUTA
I am the son of Christine Angela Deborah BEAN

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